Introducing food to your babies can be one of the greatest milestones a parent can ever experience. We, parents, are just very eager to know when our baby can start having solid food with different varieties, I was also very curious and learned about everything that I need to know to introduce food to my baby. We see him just drinking breastmilk or formula milk the whole day and we want him to taste the different variety of foods that are given by the earth to us.
Doctors usually recommend 6 months of age is the correct time to start solid food. But some babies are ready for solids between 4 to 6 months of age. Baby develops digestive enzymes between 4 to 6 months which are very crucial for the digestion of foods. At this age, babies begin to develop the coordination to move solid food inside their mouths for swallowing. So before introducing solid food ask your doctor if this is the right time to start. The early introduction of solids can lead to colic, digestive problems, and allergies.
Breastfeeding and formula milk is the only source of nutrition for a baby till 6 months age. Doctors also recommend exclusive breastfeeding
or formula feeding until 6 months.
Remember one thing food before one year is just for fun. Just to let your baby know what food is, how does it look, and how does it taste. You should not force your baby to have food. Baby knows better about his stomach. If he is hungry he will have it until his stomach is full or else he won’t have it and spit it up.
Prefer homemade foods to buy packed foods from the market as homemade foods are clean, healthy, and fresh.
You can check out some signs that babies give if they are ready for solid food:-
- The baby can sit up straight with little or no support.
- The baby can keep his head straight and move it freely.
- The baby is mouthing or drooling.
- Leaning forward to grabbing your food when you are having it.
- Opening his mouth when you bring food close to his mouth.
- Interest in food.
- Increase in appetite(feeling hungry often).
If the baby shows all these signs, you are good to go with solid food. But still, continue feeding breastmilk or formula milk up to 32 ounces a day. You can also offer small amounts of cooled boiled water at 6 months.
Many mothers prefer ripe banana as the first solid food as it is easily digestible, soft, and very healthy and helps in healthy weight gain of the baby.
Start with one tablespoon of fruit or vegetable puree. The consistency of the puree should be just like milk(flowing liquid form). This type of consistency will be easy for the baby to swallow and adapt to food slowly as its nature is like milk. Many people offer solids to babies with a milk bottle or place the baby on their legs in a sleeping position. This is not at all good. The food should be offered by placing the baby on a chair or a table just like we adults eat. When my baby was 5 months old he was showing signs and interest in food so I offered him a soft mashed banana, apple puree, carrot puree, and cereals (rice only) for one month.
Food that should be avoided at 6 months of age:-
- Start with single food like one fruit or one vegetable for 2 to 3 days and check for allergies. Do not combine foods initially.
- Do not offer any juice to your baby as it fills up the stomach and the baby doesn’t like to eat any solid food later. a small number of pure fruit juices are ok to give but whole fruits are better than their juice. I used to give watermelon juice to my baby when he was 7 months old. He loved it so much.
- Do not give honey and cow milk before one year of age.
- Do not offer whole nuts, you can make a smooth paste and offer them.
- Avoid the combination of fruit and milk products, it results in indigestion. You can add breastmilk or formula milk instead.
How to make baby food (6-month-old)?
- Take any fruit(apple, pears) or vegetables(potato, sweet potato, pumpkin) that are soft and easily digestible.
- Cut it into pieces and boil it in water for a few minutes or steam it. Steaming is better as it does not take off all the nutrients from the food.
- Grind it into a smooth paste or mash it very smooth.
- Don’t add any salt, sugar, oil, pepper, or any other ingredient.
- Serve one spoon or two or let the baby decide how much he wants to eat.
- Use boiled and cooled water to mix in baby food if needed.
- Serve when the food is warm, neither hot nor cold.
- You can also give soft finger foods to the baby to explore what food is.
- Well-cooked and mashed rice with lentils(dal, moong daal, ragi) is also very healthy for the baby.
- Offer boiled fish without bones.
- Boiled and well-cooked mashed meat is full of proteins.
- Bread and pasta as finger foods.
- It’s better to avoid plastic bowls for serving food. Serve in stainless steel bowls and cups. If you want to use plastic use BPA-free.